Just arrived at Spa after a 6-55am BA flight from Heathrow. Ross Brawn and some of his senior engineers were on it as well as some of the photographers.
Then the 90 minute drive from Brussels to Spa, which is about half an hour south of the city of Liege. Amazingly it’s a beautiful day here. I’ve been coming to Spa for the Grand Prix for 20 years and I can count on my fingers the number of times I’ve seen a hot sunny day here. Let’s hope it lasts. The forecast is for it to stay sunny or partly cloudy all weekend, with a high of around 22 degrees.
I used to stand up there with the legendary journo Denis Jenkinson and he could always tell the top 6 just from the way they went through the corner. He was always right.
This track is very special and it’s special to me because it’s a track where my Dad, Bill, always did really well. He was a works Lotus driver in the late 1950s and early 60s and also ran the Lotus sportscar team doing Le Mans, Spa 24 hours and all the big events. He told me all about this place long before I ever came here and I have always loved it.
One of my strongest memories of this place is the time when Kimi Raikkonen was battling with Michael Schumacher for pole position, it was 2002 and Olivier Panis had blown an engine in the BAR at Radillon, at the top of Eau Rouge, which meant that there was a curtain of dense white smoke sitting on the hill. Raikkonen plunged into it without lifting, or caring where in that pall of smoke the stationary BAR might be. It was one of the bravest and most committed pieces of driving I’ve ever seen. Raikkonen always goes well here and even though they have stoped developing the Ferrari I think he’ll get a good result here, especially as the KERS will help him on the long run from Eau Rouge to Les Combes.
Another strong memory here is the time when there was a massive pile up at the start in 1998 and I was doing on the spot reports for ITV F1. I realised that it was going to be a long afternoon, so I popped into a portaloo. Out of the blue Murray Walker threw to me, so I had to hurriedly retrieve my mike and make something up on the spot.
I’m looking forward to this race. Ross was saying on the plane this morning that they just need to get the tyres up to temperature and they will be competitive, but in trying to make that happen in the past by loading up corners of the car, they’ve introduced imbalances. He’s hoping that it will work this weekend. Red Bull should be quick, although they are going to be concerned about engines for this race and the next one at Monza after Sebastian Vettel lost his fourth of the season in Valencia.
Mark Webber needs a strong weekend and a win. If he doesn’t win and take a big bite out of Jenson Button’s lead then it’s going to make it hard with the races we have coming up.
On the tittle tattle front, it looks like Williams is moving closer to using Renault engines next year. And all routes seem to point to Nico Hulkenberg getting promoted to a race seat next year, possibly alongside Robert Kubica.
Red Bull are divided on switching to Mercedes. I hear that some of the team want to do it, but there is some resistance from some key people.